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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract front page
Subject index
Athor index


Life cycle assessment for agriculture and food production S4

Mattsson, Berit

SIK, The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, P.O.Box 5401 S-402 29 Gothenburg, Sweden

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Life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology can be used as a tool to establish the environmental impact of a product from cradle-to-grave, that is to say from extraction of raw material to waste management. LCA is mainly used for comparison between alternative products or processes, or to identify the production steps causing the greatest environmental impacts. This means that improvement options and appropriate actors can be identified.

An LCA is a quantitative analysis of resource depletion and production of pollutants from the production system under study, but it can also include a qualitative analysis of other important issues which are more difficult to quantify (such as the amenity value of landscape). There is a need to adapt the general LCA methodology to specific applications, such as agriculture and food production systems.

In this project he whole food production system is included; agricultural production, processing, packaging, distribution, consumption and waste management. The LCA models will be used for comparison and valuation of possible alternatives in food production in order to develop and improve existing systems from an environmental point of view.

The case studies are carried out on baby food products; processed vegetables and cereal based baby foods. Data is mainly site specific and provided by the Swedish baby food industry. A screening LCA is being done on the whole life cycle, but the emphasis of the methodology work will be put on the agricultural production. Organic cultivation systems and more intensive cultivation systems are studied, but the project also includes a comparison of various industrial methods for preservation, distribution and packaging.